"Kings Dominion Law" keeps Virginia kids out of school until after Labor Day

Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2014 8:57 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Virginia prohibits city and county school districts from starting class before Labor Day, thanks to a 1986 law designed to give an extra week’s worth of busy crowds to the state’s tourism industry, especially theme parks like Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens. Despite many attempts by some legislators to allow local school systems to set their own calendars, the law survives, largely thanks to regular donations from amusement park operators, giving the statute its nickname of the “Kings Dominion Law.”

Read more from The Washingtonian.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 10:18 AM

I'm having deja vu.

Growing up in Virginia, I remember almost never going back to school before Labor Day (there were a couple years we started the week before, I think, due to too many snow days the previous year). Are there many states where the school year starts earlier? My son started last Monday, the 18th, which I think is odd since last year ended mid-June. I always remember summer break being closer to three months, not two.

Anecdotal, but I recall one year when my folks drove us to Kings Dominion the week before school started only to find it closed because college students (i.e. the seasonal help) had already started school. That was pre-1986. Yet most VA universities start this week, so nothing's changed. Guess KD is able to retain enough seasonal help for the final week of operation.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 10:52 AM

Ohio schools are back in, some by a couple of weeks now. Which is why Kings Island is always closed the week before Labor Day. Cedar Point is open, natch, but 99% of their visitors are from Michigan, and plan that week at the park as am end of summer blow out. I always wear my Go Bucks shirt when I go.

Several school districts recommend and have tried (with limited success) doing away with summer break altogether and runnning school year round with a few large semester-type breaks along the way. They say it's better for students, they learn more, it's easier on teachers, etc, etc. The outcry comes from parents who plan their traditional vacations from work around summer, want their kids to have summer jobs, and what not. So it's long in coming if at all.

Do kids still have summer jobs? Are rural kids still needed on the farm?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 10:53 AM

Are you in Ohio, Vater? My daughter went back on Wednesday the 20th. In my wife's hometown (Circleville, OH), some schools went back on August 13th.

It's true for my home school district (Ayersville, OH); they now start at least a full week earlier than they used to when I was a kid.

It's only better for students (the end of a long summer break) if they do nothing with their summer. For example, it's widely established that in young kids, they can drop a full reading level or two over a summer...but that's only if they have parents or a home where continued learning is not part of their routine.

We kept our daughter (she's 6) on a fairly regular reading plan over the summer, and if anything she actually bumped up and got much better over the summer.

What teachers complain about (again, typically with the tiny ones) is that they feel they have to spend time getting students caught up with some basic skills the previous grade taught them The problem has been exacerbated by all the now-required testing that is implemented at all grade levels. All stuff many of us never had to deal with as kids...if you grew up in the 80's like me. :)

Last edited by OhioStater, Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:05 AM
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 10:55 AM

There's no reason that kids in Ky should be out of school the few days before Memorial day (when the pools are still too cold to swim in), and then back in school before the Ky State Fair starts (Aug. 13).

School should start after Labor day.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:49 AM

Yes, I grew up in the 80s and we got off June, July, August.

I dont think we really got any dumber in those days.

Maybe we just did more active stuff and were outside keeping busy.

We may hear some schools want year round, but I know lots of teachers and they dont want it to be year round. They enjoy their breaks as well.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:56 AM

RCMAC said:

end of summer blow out...

There were places in Florida that started the first week of August. That seems ridiculous to me.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 12:05 PM

My daughter started back the first week of August after ending in early June. She didn't even get a full 2 months. Ridiculous is 100% correct. I remember getting nearly 3 months when I was in school.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 12:10 PM

Since I was headed to Eastern NC this past wek anyway, decided to check park schedules. Carowinds had already ended daily operations, but KD is open daily thru Labor Day. Would have loved to have gotten up there, but the schedule didn't work out. Bummer too, been a long time since I got to ride Grizzly...

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 12:24 PM

Just about every school district in Mahoning County, Ohio starts the day after Labor Day. That should be the standard. Many Ohio schools start earlier to be done before June. Doesn't make sense since it's not really summer-like in this state until about mid to late June.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 12:48 PM

For those of us in the North, it is crazy that school gets out the end of May when typically our weather is still cold and rainy thus there is nothing for kids on summer break to do outside. Yet we now are starting school in early August, just when our weather has peaked for the summer! I've had this conversation numerous times with family members on school boards or working in district leadership, and they all act like there is nothing they can do about it. I am beginning to believe that kids have more common sense than adults these days.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 1:05 PM

OhioStater said:

Are you in Ohio, Vater?

Nope.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 1:10 PM

Some of our hottet weather is in September, and many schools here don't have AC. I'd prefer summer break start the week of July 4 and end at the end of September.

I'm all for kids having a solid block of free time away from school. There are a many forms of education, and not all are covered by our schools (travel, self-paced reading, summer camp, etc., and of course summer jobs for the older kids). I personally feel I was prepared more for my career by my first summer jobs than the classroom (people skills, good communication, staying calm under pressure).

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 3:29 PM

My understanding is that the desire to start school so early is almost entirely based around Xmas break and the timing of testing.

If you start after Labor Day, the second quarter only has a week or two left when Christmas break begins. This means the kids come back and immediately begin testing on things they haven't done in two weeks. There's a lot of concern about retention and scores and stuff.

I don't agree one bit, but the idea is that starting by mid-August (or sooner) makes the holiday break the midway point of the school year. Testing an such finishes, you take two weeks off and then return for the 2nd half of the year.

At least that's what we've been told around here.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:39 PM

For as long as I can remember, the Columbus schools started the Wednesday before Labor Day. For some reason, this year they started a week early. Combine that with Labor Day coming on its earliest possible day, and they are going back almost two weeks early. To me, this makes no sense at all. Especially a scold and rainy as this summer has been...the real summer weather started the same week that school did.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 9:33 AM

I say get 'em in there before the next deadly polar vortex arrives causing them to take 3 weeks off in February.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 9:45 AM

The Wednesday before Labor Day was the gold standard in the Cleveland area for a long time as well, including all of the years I was in school.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 10:03 AM

My kids started school today. I don't remember when we started school when I was a kid but I do remember thinking it was too early. And we ended school too late in the spring.

That kids in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky apparently started school before last week made for a great visit to Kings Island last week though. Just trying to help the local economy so Ohio doesn't enact a Kings Island Law. :)

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 10:04 AM

Magic Kingdom wasn't busy last Sunday either. It was awesome.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 10:17 AM

I believe the difference between KI being closed this week and CP being open is that CP benefits from Michigan's "Cedar Point Law".

My kid's school (southeast Ohio) opened last Wednesday (8/20) and the two area colleges started this week.

Having school start earlier so that the first semester testing falls right before the holiday break sounds like a great idea. That is something I hadn't thought of before. Thanks Gonch, for bringing that to my attention. Good one.

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